An engaging consideration of happy accidents and lucky environmental mistakes.



Human error works for the greater good in this engaging true tale of an old-growth forest getting the last laugh.

How do you misplace something that was never truly lost? To answer that question, consider the case of the Lost Forty. In 1785 the Continental Congress declared that the United States be surveyed as it expanded, so in 1882, Josiah R. King and his crew surveyed three townships in Minnesota. Yet it wasn’t until 1958 that someone figured out that King had made a mistake. On the maps, King had listed a patch of old-growth forest as part of Coddington Lake. By the time the mistake was detected, loggers had avoided the area and the trees were part of the Chippewa National Forest. (The text falsely implies that this means they are “protected forever,” although logging does take place in national forests.) The book takes care to mention that the survey of Minnesota could only occur after “most of the land had been taken from Native people” because “the government of the United States wanted [it].” Bowen’s art alternates between thick, deep hues and light, winsome watercolors, but an aesthetically jarring typeface mars the overall design. Additional information about old-growth forests and where to find them, as well as the details of surveying, rounds out the book.

An engaging consideration of happy accidents and lucky environmental mistakes. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8166-9796-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.


Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.


Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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